The Queen Book Without Much Queen
By Riley Eaton
Special to North Palm Beach Life
Queen In Cornwall is a 289-page nonfiction novel written by Rupert White about legendary rock group Queen and their relationship with Cornwall, England.
Starting in the 1950s and spanning into the early 1970s, the book covers the events of a single year in each chapter.
Though this book does contain Queen content, much of the book is heavily focused on Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor, because Taylor grew up in Cornwall.
Besides emphasis on Taylor’s budding musical talent in his early years, there is also abundant information about the Cornwall city of Truro, what life was like for Cornwall’s teenagers in the 1960s, the state of music and how it was accessed in this secluded area of England, as well as how local bands fared in Cornwall.
As intriguing as these subjects sound, the sheer volume of this content is baffling. Non-Queen related information dominates more than half of the book. For reference, out of 289 pages, Freddie Mercury and Brian May are not formally introduced into the narrative until pages 157-158, and John Deacon is not introduced until page 245.
This setup may feel disappointing or unrewarding for someone expecting a Queen-heavy book.
Much of the book is phrased in a meandering, first-person style because it is composed of quotes from interviews of people who grew up and made music with Roger Taylor. The interviews give decent information about Truro, Cornwall, and bands Taylor played in during his youth, but the nature of this tell-all style can prove troublesome. White included portions of text where interviewees stray from the subject and tell anecdotes about people and events that happened around Roger Taylor rather than about Roger Taylor.
On the upside, one can learn a lot about Cornwall and Truro from this book -- the information about Truro and the music climate of 1960s Cornwall has its moments of fascinating insight.
Queen In Cornwall is also a trove of photographs not so commonly encountered. The pages are filled with pictures of 1960s Truro, Roger Taylor in his youth, his teenage band, The Reaction, Queen’s predecessor band, Smile, Queen in their early years and original gig advertisements for The Reaction, Smile, and early Queen.
The roughly 133 pages near the end of the book are more Queen-centric, and it is a relieving and delightful climax after so much focus on Cornwall. This part contains fantastic stories of interactions between Queen’s members and surrounding parties that toured with them, and “backstory” information such as how they met, what they studied in college before joining Queen, and so on.
In sum, Queen In Cornwall requires patience to reach the heart of the story if one is reading with the expectation of getting a heavy fill of Queen content. However, it is sure to entertain if one does not mind learning about Cornwall, and its plethora of Queen, Cornwall, and Roger Taylor photographs is sure to be of value and interest.
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